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Cork might not be the most obvious building material for a hotel but this is Alentejo after all, and it turns out that cork is not only a wonderfully effective insulator but its production is also about as sustainable as you can get, so the Ecorkhotel has the eco-friendly box very firmly ticked.
The main building is clad entirely in cork, with the hotel's 56 cottage suites, each with its own private terrace, dotted amongst the groves of olive trees and cork-oaks. To avoid resembling a giant pin board, the interiors are whitewashed and modern, each with an L-shaped design to maximise privacy.
The hotel's Cardo restaurant has views across the Alentejo countryside, and the young chef serves an inventive menu that is rooted in the traditional flavours of Portugal. The region's wines are currently undergoing something of a renaissance and slip down all too easily - thankfully their prices do not yet match their high quality.
The spa offers a range of treatments and massages, but the solar-heated pool is its real triumph, and the gym offers classes as well as a fully-equipped fitness studio. The rooftop pool is unheated (thanks to the long, hot summers and mild winters it's really not necessary) and is a wonderful suntrap with its views across the fields and gently undulating hills.
Why we love it
As far as hotel swimming pools go, this ones a winner. The surrounding countryside views aren't bad either.